Courtesy Reuters

Turkey's Security and the Middle East

Turkey defines its security options within three interacting strategic environments: the global system, implying mainly Turkey's position as regards the Soviet Union and the United States; its bilateral relations with Greece, involving mainly Cyprus and the Aegean; and its position within the Middle East subsystem.

After the Second World War, Turkey's freedom of choice was strictly limited by the Soviet threat and by the bipolar and heterogeneous character of the international system-the domination of world politics by the existence of the two diametrically opposed socio-political systems. First of all, Turkey considered itself part of the Western world ideologically. Second, confronted with the Soviet attempt to obtain control over the Straits and some of its eastern provinces, Turkey established very close ties with the United States, and finally became a member of NATO. In those years there was a high degree of coincidence between American and Turkish security interests. The objective was quite clearly the deterrence of the Soviet threat and the containment of Soviet expansion. Turkey's foreign policy demonstrated a remarkable simplicity. Its security policy showed a continuity of purpose, and defense planning was an easy task.

The last two decades have drastically altered the framework within which Turkish policy operates. Let us examine first the evolution of relations between Turkey and NATO, which is inevitably focused on the Turkish-American relationship. We shall then look at the continuing problem of Turkey's relations with Greece, and finally at the important new thrust in Turkish policy toward the Middle East as it has evolved in the past decade.


In the 1960s and 1970s, the circumstances which had induced Turkey to link its security interests completely with those of the United States underwent significant changes. In this period, Turkey's ties with the United States were steadily reduced. A number of specific political irritants played a role. The first was President Johnson's blunt letter to Prime Minister Inönü in June 1964, warning that Turkey was not permitted to use U.S. military equipment in

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